olympic lessons

What the Olympics can teach you about achieving your career goals

what-olympics-can-teachAthletes work extremely hard with persistence, determination and remarkable skills but their success depends heavily on goal setting and mental training. Whether it’s your career, finances or relationships, applying the same goal setting strategies that underpin their successes can be incorporated into most aspects of our lives for improvement, gaining focus and turning ambitions into realities. Olympians use goal setting methods which break down long term goals into manageable chunks. This goal-setting process allows athletes to understand where they are now and what smaller hurdles they need to accomplish to facilitate the achievement of long-term career goals.

Starting Line – establish your long term goal

The first stage of goal setting is to start big and identify large scale, long term goals that you want to achieve. This could be the establishment of your own business or finding your dream job. Visualise yourself achieving your dream, what it look like? How does it feel?

Once you have established the long term goal this will then give you the vision that will shape aspects of your strategy for achieving it. Don’t be afraid to aim high, use moderately difficult goals that will motivate you to take action. Not only are they a lot more satisfying when attained, they will push you outside of your comfort zone and give you something to aim high for.

Getting it down on paper

Research shows that those who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who do not write down their goals. Writing down these goals is the first step of making that goal a reality. Write them down and be as specific and motivating as possible. Keeping a journal or publicly post your goals or use visuals so you can monitor your progress. Keep them somewhere you can see every day to remind you of what’s important and to help you maintain focus and commitment.

Big journeys begin with small steps

Athletes set themselves systematic goals that are focused on the process rather than focusing entirely on winning the competition. Reaching your long term career goals requires strategic short-term goal setting. This means breaking down the goals into small tangible targets /goals. Setting yourself benchmarks will ensure you are staying on track. Small changes will eventually lead to big results.

Like athletes, if you focus your attention and efforts less on the results you’re hoping for and more on the processes you will learn enjoy the journey in the present, master skills and develop confidence as you overcome the mini hurdles on your journey to your long term plan.

Staying on track and rewarding yourself

Now you need to make these goals more effective by making them SMART. This will help you create and implement a successful plan to reach your target and stay focused.

  • Specific – Be specific when you set your career goals; a vague goal is like having no goal at all.  Your goals must be specific enough to keep you on track.
  • Measurable – To be effective your goals must be measurable.  You can’t possibly know if you’ve achieved them unless you have established specific measures to determine if and when they have been achieved.
  • Achievable – Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are out of reach. Set goals which will slightly stretch you and the feeling of success which this brings will help you to remain motivated.

Relevant – Does your goal match up with where you are trying to go overall?  Your goals should never be out of alignment for where you are going in life, and what you want to achieve in the long term. This is useful to consider for your short term goals – how do they relate to your long term goal? Try not to contradict any other goal you are trying to achieve.


  • Time bound – Ensure you set a realistic deadline to the goal you are trying to accomplish otherwise it will always be just a dream. Deadlines are always helpful in getting us to take action.

Introduce a positive rewards system that will be meaningful and motivate you. Maybe consider realistic weekly and/or monthly rewards for when you’ve met milestones or completed those smaller career goals to keep up momentum.


Utilising your support System

Having a supportive network of friends and family, mentors and coaches will help you stay on track and give you energy to keep going in those moments of doubt. Make sure you are vocal about the types of goals you are setting yourself so they can provide encouragement and support throughout the process. Adapt your surroundings so you feel empowered and creative and take part in activities that unlock your motivation. Apply this positive energy when focusing on that long term plan.

Behind every Olympic champion is a coach providing support, monitoring progress and encouraging athletes to meet there goals. Having access to a Career Coach can enable you to have honest and effective conversations with someone independent to your personal life.

Our personal career coaching will give you the support you need and can provide a positive contribution to your long term vision, so why not contact us to see how we can help you achieve your career goals.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.uk.com